Background: Understanding student attitudes towards people diagnosed with mental illness is central to realising evidence-based nursing education and policy at an international level. Redressing stigmatised views can assist in preparing nursing students to work in mental health settings and support the active involvement of consumers in all aspects of mental health service delivery (known as: consumer participation) at individual and systemic levels. Accurate research on nursing student attitudes is dependent on the availability of valid and reliable measures. Objectives: Using data from and international study, this research sought to: (1) evaluate two measures of nurse student attitudes, and (2) explore whether attitudes to people labelled with a diagnosis of mental illness and who use mental health services is associated with more positive attitudes to consumer participation in mental health services. Design: Self-report quantitative data gained via the Consumer Participation Questionnaire (CPQ) and Mental Health Nurse Education Survey (MHNES). Setting and participants: University nursing students in Australia and Western Europe. Data: Pooled CPQ and MHNES data from Australia, Ireland, Finland, Norway and the Netherlands. Methods: The MHNES and CPQ were evaluated via exploratory factor analysis and Rasch modelling. Hierarchical regression was applied to see whether attitudes to mental illness and mental health practice relate to attitudes to consumer participation after addressing demographic differences. Results: Refined MHNES scales demonstrated overall fit on Rasch models. Reliabilities for MHNES ranged from 0.82 to 0.73. Perceived value of mental health nursing to consumers and lower negative stereotypes were associated with positive attitudes to consumer participation independent of age, gender and country [F (9, 381) = 15.78, p <.001]. Students who considered mental health nursing made a valuable contribution represented the strongest association with a positive attitude towards consumer participation. Conclusions: Differences in openness to consumer participation are partly attributable to views about people diagnosed with mental illness and the perception that mental health practice makes a positive difference to these people within health service contexts.